Photographers Odder than Anything Living in the Rain Forest

The Vagabond in Costa Rica
Gorp.com
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Monteverde, Costa Rica
Costa Rica's lush national parks attract nature lovers like country music festivals attract horizontally challenged people in skin-tight jeans. They are "picture" perfect.

Before I arrived in Costa Rica, I'd never done any nature photography, but I figured this would be the perfect place to start. I took two disposable Kodak panoramic cameras and boarded a bus to the famous Monteverde Cloud Forest in the north-central part of the country.

I met Lars and Jens, two Danish travelers, on the bus. Lars was a butterfly aficionado. He showed me his entire collection, telling me how and where he caught his favorites. Jens, the larger of the two, weighing in at about 280 pounds, had just spent the last five years working as a cook at a scientific outpost on a glacier in Greenland. He had no visible interest in Monteverde but seemed to have been dragged there by his buddy.

After we ate lunch together at the park entrance, Jens decided to stay in the restaurant for another hour. His mouth crammed full, he waved a chicken breast, motioning for us to go on without him.

Lars and I started down the path, and in moments he spotted his first prey: a yellow and white butterfly. I watched as he crawled silently with his net, raised it slowly into striking position, and nabbed his victim with a laser-fast swipe. Through the mesh net, Lars gave the butterfly a few finger flicks to the head to knock it unconscious. Then he carefully folded a paper coffin, inserted the butterfly, and dropped it in his satchel.


Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 3 Dec 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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